How A Birth Plan Helps

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    "Prepare for a no fault birth….If you confidently participate in all the decisions made during your labour and delivery – even those that were not in your birth plan – you are likely to look upon your birth with no blame and no regrets"

    William and Martha Sears – The Birth Book


    Why write a birth plan?

    Birth plans are not contracts or guarantees of what will happen at your birth but it is a great way of organizing your thoughts about the big day ahead and figuring out whats important to you on special day. Of course we can’t control everything that happens during labour but there is a lot we CAN control.

    If this is your first baby it’s comforting to know whats ahead of you so you can decide how you want to handle different scenarios. No matter how good your relationship is with your doctor or midwife, you do not know the midwives at the hospital and they don’t know you so a concise birth plan can really help your midwife understand how to support you best.

    Even if you’re planning a home birth and know exactly who will be present at the birth, it is worthwhile to think about your preferences.

    Writing a birth plan helps you to look at different situations that can arise so you have an understanding of what your options are long before labour – so there are very few surprises when you feel well informed. Once you’ve considered your options you realize that even if things change during labour you still have options (in other words – Plan B)

    Some mums shy away from writing birthplans especially if they have the mistaken belief that it’s going to guarantee that specific things will or won’t happen during labour – we know that babies don’t read birth plans :-)

    There aren’t any guarantees in labour so if someone is expecting that a birth plan is going to guarantee that something will or won’t happen then you could really be setting yourself up for disappointment.

    It’s not the birth plan itself that can cause disappointment in labour but your expectations and motivation for creating it.

    I sometimes hear from mums who say ‘as soon as I got to the hospital the birth plan went out the window’…….if you’ve done your homework and understand the offerings at your hospital in managing your labour then this is highly unlikely to happen as you and your partner are sharing the decision making with your midwife/consultant – rather than having someone make decisions for you.

    Here’s the birth preference template that my couples use to give you some ideas to start you off.


    Sample Birth Plan

    John and I are looking forward to having a positive birth experience at x.

    Below are our birth preferences. We appreciate your support during this special time.

    During Labour

    I would like to keep VE’s to a minimum (ie on admission) and only at my request after that (unless there is a concern for my baby)

    I prefer to labour and birth in any position that I find comfortable.

    I will ask for pain relief if I need it.

    I prefer to have intermittent monitoring unless there is a concern for my baby.

    We would like to keep the lights dimmed as much as possible.

    As long as labour progresses normally and my baby are doing fine I prefer not to have my membranes released or have my labour speeded up.

    I prefer to tear and not have an episiotomy

    When I am fully dilated, and assuming our baby is doing well, I would like to wait until I feel the urge to push before beginning the pushing phase.

    After the Birth

    Assuming everything is normal I prefer to have a natural third stage and allow the cord to finish pulsating before it is clamped/cut. I understand that this has significant benefits for my baby.

    My partner would like to cut the cord

    I will be breastfeeding so I would prefer to have continuous skin to skin contact with my baby and postpone weighing/routine exams etc until after the first feed.


    Special Circumstances:

    Should intervention become necessary we would appreciate being fully informed of all risks, benefits and alternatives.

    If a caesarean becomes necessary, my partner will remain with me at all times. Time permitting I wish to have an epidural for anesthesia.

    Thank you in advance.

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